Where Sheila's been this week #easc13

Although August is traditional holiday time for most in the sector (and beyond), I was one of about 300 people who travelled to Dundee yesterday for the annual eAssessment Scotland conference. Now it its fifth year it is becoming a well established date in the Scottish, UK and international calendar. It’s certainly one of my favourite events, and now being self employed, the fact that it is free to attend is an added bonus.

I’m still adjusting to my new working life, and although I am able to carry on using almost the same technologies to support my practice, the downside of not having a “.ac.uk” email address is that I can’t connect to the eduroam wifi service. Now, on a day to day basis that isn’t an issue but at conferences held at Universities, connection to the service is something I have started to take for granted. As you’ll know dear reader, I have been know to send one of two tweets from conferences. The latest Jisc Inform (scroll down the page) has a short article by me about my use of twitter and in particular its use in conferences.

So yesterday I was “caught short” a bit as I couldn’t automagically connect to eduroam, my mobile phone signal wasn’t very strong in the lecture theatre and so I wasn’t able to tweet. I should have checked with the fabulous conference team and I’m sure I would have got access to another network, but I just didn’t think!

Now, not being able to tweet for most people wouldn’t be a big thing, but I was quite startled how strange it was for me just to take notes and not tweet and share the #easc13 goodness. In fact several people did ask me why I wasn’t tweeting. So at least I know at least I’m recognised for something . . .

One of the themes the first keynote by Cathrine Cronin (a long standing twitter buddy of mine and it was lovely to at last meet her face to face) raised was openness, and the value of sharing with peers. I know I have become a much more open practitioner over the past 6 or so years via twitter and blogging. Not being able to instantly share instantly yesterday was very counter intuitive for me. Also as I said in the Inform Article, conferences are a great place to utilise twitter to share, meet and then continue relationships and extend your community. So over the weekend I’m going to explore the twitter archive and try and catch up with the “chat” from the day.

It’s always difficult to distil a conference in a single post but just for the record some of my highlights were:

  • 3 female keynotes, sadly even in this day and age an all too rare occurrence
  • the enthusiasm and sharing of ideas and practice by the presenters and delegates
  • how conventional and risk averse we all are (students, staff, institutions, society) about risk taking and really changing educational paradigms (this was brilliantly encapsulated by Helen Keegan’s keynote – see this video for an overview )
  • pic’n’mix sweeties in the afternoon are a great idea at a conference.

So well done to David, Kenji, the sponsors and all the team for yet again pulling off another great event. I’ll be back next year, and hopefully at full tweeting strength.

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